Life in Israel has its bright moments, even for elderly Anglos like me, and after the trying corona year and the brutal Gaza war. But all of a sudden, this past Motzei Shabbat there came a ray of light and rejoicing, for myself and my brother at least, with the thrilling and comforting news that Chelsea Football Club had won the very prestigious Champions League Cup in Portugal, beating Manchester City 1-O. The fact that this had been achieved despite the club’s having a new German manager and that the winning goal was scored by Kai Havertz, a German player, did little to diminish our delight because, after all, the British club is owned by a very wealthy Zionistic Jew of Russian origin with a home in Israel named Roman Abramovitch. So now Chelsea, a part of London long celebrated for its artistic connections, and the home to such famed artists and writers as Turner, Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Hillaire Belloc, George Elliot, and numerous others, has also achieved world renown as the home of the winners of the Champions League and is now a new powerhouse on the world’s sports stage.
Our attachment to Chelsea, which has not waned for well over half a century, actually goes back to the 1950’s when our dear parents, Rudolph Guy and Rachel Herman, of Blessed Memory, moved from Willesden to King’s Road, Chelsea, where my father opened his Chartered Accountant’s office and accumulated an impressive list of clients including Chelsea Town Hall and even the world-famous photographer, Zoltan Glass.
Living in the King’s Road in those days, within walking distance of the River Thames Embankment, and opposite the Chelsea Pensioners Stadium, with its constant military parades, was very exciting for us youngsters, my younger brother Jonathan and myself. As Orthodox Jews we very soon became an integral part of the local Chelsea Synagogue in Smith Terrace with its inspiring Rabbi, Reverend Miller and Rabbanit Miller, and several other members and their families with whom we were on very friendly terms (i.e. the Zidermans, the Adlers, Goldbergs, the Silvers and the Bannisters etc.) And in 1953, the same year as the coronation of Queen Elizabeth the Second, and the conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing, I was barmitzvahed in Chelsea Synagogue which was by this time led by dear Reverend Frankel. Subsequently, I also founded the Chelsea Jewish Workshop which held its meetings there, and where I also met my wife-to be, Valerie, and married her in that same Chelsea Synagogue in 1964 prior to making Aliya in 1966.
So you see that, despite my having lived in Jerusalem these 50-plus years, from many points of view Chelsea has retained a special place in my heart, and why Chelsea Football Club’s soccer success has unleashed a joyful torrent of Chelsea memories and added a bright moment of sunshine into my life.
David Herman, Jerusalem. Chelsea fan. 02-6536764